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Overview Of New Guidance For Staff Who Are Responsible For Care After Death
  1. Jo Wilson,
  2. Claire Henry
  1. Jo Wilson is Macmillan Consultant Nurse Practitioner, Palliative Care, Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals Trust, and Claire Henry is National Programme Director, National End of Life Care Programme, Leicester

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The nurse’s role at the end of life extends beyond death. It also involves providing care for the deceased person and giving support to their families, friends and carers. However, there has been a lack of clarity regarding the detail of care after death and the associated care practices have sometimes been surrounded with ritual.

The National Palliative Care Nurse Consultant Group raised this issue last year. Its members have since worked in partnership with the National End of Life Care Programme to produce a much-needed, comprehensive source of information that is entitled Guidance for Staff Responsible for Care After Death (Last Offices) (National End of Life Care Programme and National Nurse Consultant Group (Palliative Care), 2011). This guidance document has been written to support the practice of all health and social care professionals who care for people who have died as well as their family, carers and friends. Care after death can be emotionally challenging. The guidance provided in the document will be able to underpin the development of protocols within organisations and assist with the associated training.

In developing the guidance, existing published work was referenced where possible. However, when there was no available evidence, a consensus approach was adopted, based on nationally recommended guidelines (Dougherty and Lister, 2008). The consensus process involved over 100 individuals from the full range of professional groups. The guidance has been endorsed by both the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Pathologists.

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